1TB Fusion or 256GB with external storage later?

Moccasin

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2011
938
169
Newcastle, UK
I am struggling to decide how to configure the 21" iMac I am ready to buy.

I had decided on Fusion Drive and leaving the RAM at 8GB, even knowing I can't upgrade later. I now wonder whether I would be better getting a 256GB SSD instead and getting an external drive to hook up via USB.

Would I notice the difference? I'm likely to be using Aperture (iPhoto initially) but not taxing it too much - general management of prosumer DSLR photos and minor image processing but not heavy image manipulation.

I may use Windows occasionally through bootcamp but can't see me getting Parallels.

I'm struggling to justify buying a desktop as it is, so upgrading storage and RAM is pushing it, but my 2010 MBA is full and unsuitable for lots of photo work.

On that basis, maybe I'm talking myself into upgrading the base model storage and not going for the discrete graphics of the better 21" model! I had assumed though that the 1GB GT 750M was a worthy upgrade for £150.

Advice appreciated.
 

whistler222

macrumors 6502
Nov 8, 2007
318
0
I've read that there is a noticeable difference between the Fusion and the true SSD. External storage is cheap.. internal can't be upgraded..
so i went with 256 ssd, and got some external storage..
(also left RAM at 8, but getting 32 from owc)..
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,646
455
Redondo Beach, California
...
Would I notice the difference? I'm likely to be using Aperture (iPhoto initially) but not taxing it too much - general management of prosumer DSLR photos and minor image processing but not heavy image manipulation..

An Apperture photo library thats holds many RAW format images from a dSLR is not going to fit into internal storage. You are going to need to buy some external drives. Buy one for the library, a much larger one for Time Machne and then a couple drives for backup.

The SSD is very fast. Use that as your system drives and the fastest external you can afford for the Aperture library. The Time Machine and other backup drives can be slower and cheaper WD "Green Drives".
 
Last edited:

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,646
455
Redondo Beach, California
I've read that there is a noticeable difference between the Fusion and the true SSD. External storage is cheap.. internal can't be upgraded..
so i went with 256 ssd, and got some external storage..
(also left RAM at 8, but getting 32 from owc)..
Yes I have a MBP and my daughter a MBP with Retina. The Retnit macbook is 100% flash based. Mine has a conventional hard drive. The CPU speeds are comparable. The Retina boots nearly instantly and does file copies near instantly. She uses it for editing video, the files are large, 300MB and it is very fast. The only problem with SSD is the cost a 512GB or 1TB SSD is still expensive

However the iMac is faster for transcoding and imports in FCPX because the iMac is a four ore and the retnia macbook is a dual care.
 

CWallace

macrumors 604
Aug 17, 2007
7,434
3,618
Seattle, WA
I had planned to go with a 3TB Fusion drive, but with the size of my media library, I decided to go with the 256GB SSD and a Drobo 5D connected via Thunderbolt.
 

Moccasin

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2011
938
169
Newcastle, UK
An Apperture photo library thats holds many RAW format images from a dSLR is not going to fit into internal storage. You are going to need to buy some external drives. Buy one for the library, a much larger one for Time Machne and then a couple drives for backup.

The SSD is very fast. Use that as your system drives and the fastest external you can afford for the Aperture library. The Time Machine and other backup drives can be slower and cheaper WD "Green Drives".
Thanks, that makes sense. I already had to split my iPhoto library so that my older photos are on an external drive though I've only moved to RAW fairly recently.

Presumambly, iTunes is best on the external drive as well, although I may well leave it on my SSD for now as it's not that big yet and I haven't got round to ripping DVDs yet.
 

cocky jeremy

macrumors 601
Jul 12, 2008
4,410
2,019
Columbus, OH
I was going to do 3 TB Fusion.. went with the 500 GB SSD.. don't regret it a bit. Using less than 100 GB on the SSD and my new external drive still had 1.74 GB left on it!
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,326
749
I think i will go with 256gb ssd, and usb3 external for now
Once TB2 prices drop from the stratospherically inflated prices by intel greed
I would consider a 4TB raid setup in raid0 - x2 2TB
Does your Mac support TB2?

If I were in your shoes, I would consider RAM as important and consider getting the most I can afford and start with the Fusion drive and later add external drives as needed.
 

propower

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2010
719
112
The cost for external Thunderbolt storage is very high right now. If you consider the cost difference from 256 internal to 1TB internal it is $800. You will be HARD pressed to add anywhere close to 750GB SSD for that price (with a thunderbolt solution) and it will never be as fast as the internal. If I would have seen this clearly I would have gotten at least the 512G if not the 1TB option and done a couple of partitions. As it is - I am into a $500 to $600 case for adding 4 external TB hard drives!

If one is OK with it USB3 is pretty darned fast and super cheap for cases
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
The cost for external Thunderbolt storage is very high right now. If you consider the cost difference from 256 internal to 1TB internal it is $800. You will be HARD pressed to add anywhere close to 750GB SSD for that price (with a thunderbolt solution) and it will never be as fast as the internal. If I would have seen this clearly I would have gotten at least the 512G if not the 1TB option and done a couple of partitions. As it is - I am into a $500 to $600 case for adding 4 external TB hard drives!

If one is OK with it USB3 is pretty darned fast and super cheap for cases
I disagree. The Buffalo HD-PA1.0TU3 1TB Thunderbolt drive can be had for USD220 in my country. And it's decent, with read/writes of 105-110 MB/s.
 

Moccasin

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2011
938
169
Newcastle, UK
Fusion read/write: 520/350 MB/s
Pure SSD read/write: 750/650 MB/s
Is that an average across the whole drive or specific to the SSD element of the Fusion?

Given that I may need Windows and that (I read on here somewhere) won't install onto the SSD area of the Fusion, Windows performance would presumably be quite slow.

Any view on whether the graphics of the base 21" is good enough for Aperture? Would I notice the difference in combination with the lower speed processor?
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
231
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Is that an average across the whole drive or specific to the SSD element of the Fusion?

Given that I may need Windows and that (I read on here somewhere) won't install onto the SSD area of the Fusion, Windows performance would presumably be quite slow.

Any view on whether the graphics of the base 21" is good enough for Aperture? Would I notice the difference in combination with the lower speed processor?
It's for the entire Fusion, as produced via Blackmagic tests.

Windows will only install to the HDD section of Fusion.

For light aperture usage, Iris is sufficient. But if you want to future proof your Mac for the next few years, get an i7 (because it has 8 threads. I5s only have 4) and an Nvidia GT750M.

Most people will say 8GB of RAM is enough, but I find that I always run out of memory on just 8GB, especially with a VM running in the background.
 

Moccasin

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2011
938
169
Newcastle, UK
It's for the entire Fusion, as produced via Blackmagic tests.

Windows will only install to the HDD section of Fusion.

For light aperture usage, Iris is sufficient. But if you want to future proof your Mac for the next few years, get an i7 (because it has 8 threads. I5s only have 4) and an Nvidia GT750M.

Most people will say 8GB of RAM is enough, but I find that I always run out of memory on just 8GB, especially with a VM running in the background.
Hmm you've just bumped the cost up somewhat!
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,974
3,892
I've read that there is a noticeable difference between the Fusion and the true SSD. External storage is cheap.. internal can't be upgraded..
so i went with 256 ssd, and got some external storage..
(also left RAM at 8, but getting 32 from owc)..
Where did you read that? The only time you will notice a speed difference is when people doing benchmarks work hard to demonstrate speed differences. In real life, you get the same speed with Fusion. Plus you have tons more storage, so when you _do_ go to external storage, you will have a massive speed hit that you don't get with Fusion.

----------

I was going to do 3 TB Fusion.. went with the 500 GB SSD.. don't regret it a bit. Using less than 100 GB on the SSD and my new external drive still had 1.74 GB left on it!
You realise that the 3TB fusion has a 128 GB SSD drive, so you would have more data on the fast SSD, plus you would have _a lot_ more data that actually uses the SSD speed on the fast SSD, plus you'd have a lot more space left and no external drive to worry about?

----------

Thanks, that makes sense. I already had to split my iPhoto library so that my older photos are on an external drive though I've only moved to RAW fairly recently.

Presumambly, iTunes is best on the external drive as well, although I may well leave it on my SSD for now as it's not that big yet and I haven't got round to ripping DVDs yet.
And with Fusion you don't have to worry about it. No splitting your iPhoto library, because the photos you don't look at are on the external drive - and if you suddenly get nostalgic and look at your 2005 holiday photos again and again, they get moved to SSD without you having to do anything.
 

Moccasin

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2011
938
169
Newcastle, UK
And with Fusion you don't have to worry about it. No splitting your iPhoto library, because the photos you don't look at are on the external drive - and if you suddenly get nostalgic and look at your 2005 holiday photos again and again, they get moved to SSD without you having to do anything.
Problem would be when my library exceeds 1TB, which it is bound to do over the machine's lifetime. The 21" iMac doesn't have 3TB Fusion as an option. So I'd either have to have the whole thing on an external drive or else still have split libraries.
 

Moccasin

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Mar 21, 2011
938
169
Newcastle, UK
Given that another thread on here highlighted that the 21" model's Fusion drive seems to have the same 5400rpm HDD as the base model, I think SSD is the way to go.
 
The cost for external Thunderbolt storage is very high right now. If you consider the cost difference from 256 internal to 1TB internal it is $800. You will be HARD pressed to add anywhere close to 750GB SSD for that price (with a thunderbolt solution) and it will never be as fast as the internal. If I would have seen this clearly I would have gotten at least the 512G if not the 1TB option and done a couple of partitions. As it is - I am into a $500 to $600 case for adding 4 external TB hard drives!

If one is OK with it USB3 is pretty darned fast and super cheap for cases
I have a caviar black 2tb, in a usb3 /firewire 800 enclosure atm, and i get sustained writes of 125mb/s
 

minimalism

macrumors member
Nov 28, 2013
73
5
Hard Drives are more prone to be damaged than Flash. Fusion is the best of both worlds but still has to spin at 5400 rpm which creates noise and heat.

I opted for the SSD since I don't store my media internally. External drives are dirty cheap now and you can even create a cloud storage of your own.
 

apple_iBoy

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2003
687
416
Philadelphia, PA
Hard Drives are more prone to be damaged than Flash. Fusion is the best of both worlds but still has to spin at 5400 rpm which creates noise and heat.

I opted for the SSD since I don't store my media internally. External drives are dirty cheap now and you can even create a cloud storage of your own.
I had the exact same reasoning and got the 256 GB SSD. I added two 3 TB thunderbolt drives I got for a good price.
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,103
495
Takamatsu, Japan
Hard Drives are more prone to be damaged than Flash. Fusion is the best of both worlds but still has to spin at 5400 rpm which creates noise and heat.
Late 2013 27" iMacs have 7200rpm HDDs. I have the 1TB Fusion Drive and no issues with either noise (next to silent compared to the Late 2009 iMac I replaced) or heat.

I opted for the SSD since I don't store my media internally. External drives are dirty cheap now and you can even create a cloud storage of your own.
I store a vast majority of my media externally as well but appreciate the 1TB internal space. I am very pleased with the Fusion Drive.
 

minimalism

macrumors member
Nov 28, 2013
73
5
Late 2013 27" iMacs have 7200rpm HDDs. I have the 1TB Fusion Drive and no issues with either noise (next to silent compared to the Late 2009 iMac I replaced) or heat.



I store a vast majority of my media externally as well but appreciate the 1TB internal space. I am very pleased with the Fusion Drive.
I have nothing against Fusion Drive at all. I would have done the same for space and speed. Sadly, I don't need that much space for my internal drive, thus SSD. I once experienced internal hard disk failure, so I now often store all my files externally.
 

SaSaSushi

macrumors 601
Aug 8, 2007
4,103
495
Takamatsu, Japan
I have nothing against Fusion Drive at all. I would have done the same for space and speed. Sadly, I don't need that much space for my internal drive, thus SSD. I once experienced internal hard disk failure, so I now often store all my files externally.
I've got nothing against the pure 256GB SSD solution either. It's all about your personal needs.

256GB internal storage wasn't enough for me and the 512GB SSD was entirely out of my budget. I absolutely wanted the speed of SSD so the Fusion Drive was the best choice for me.

As is mentioned in a similar thread on this debate, the failure rate of SSD vs HDD turns out to be much closer than most people think, moving parts or not. It's just that SSD is a far newer technology.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.